15 – Correspondence

Text Messaging and Chat Protocol

Annemarie Hamlin; Chris Rubio; Michele DeSilva; James Francis, Jr.; and Kimberly Clough

Text messages are part of our communication landscape, and skilled business communicators consider them a valuable tool to connect.

Whatever digital device you use, written communication in the form of brief messages, or texting, has become a common way to connect. It is useful for short exchanges, and it is a convenient way to stay connected with others when talking on the phone would be cumbersome, or if a need to multitask arises. Correspondence on business communication platforms, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, should adhere to similar principles as texting. These platforms host channels, organized by projects or teams, that function like group chats between employees.

Texting is not useful for long or complicated messages, and careful consideration should be given to the audience. If you are using Slack, GroupMe, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Hangouts, Zoom chat, or another platform, it is important to consider whom you are messaging, if the communication is private or public, and what information you are transmitting to the other party/parties involved. Be aware of the principles that should guide your writing in this context.

When texting, always consider your audience and your company, and choose words, terms, or abbreviations that will deliver your message appropriately and effectively.

Tips for Effective Business Texting

Daily business operations require coworkers, clients, and other professionally-related individuals to communicate with each other regarding a variety of operations and tasks. When using text messaging in a professional setting, the protocols for format, content, and audience consideration are heightened beyond everyday communication with a personal friend or acquaintance outside of the work environment.

Know your audience. “? % dsct” may be an understandable way to ask a close associate what the proper discount is to offer a certain customer, but if you are writing a text to your boss, it might be wiser to write, “What % discount does Murray get on a $1K order?”

Consider the sensitivity of information communicated, as legal issues and policies of privacy may apply. There is a vast difference between asking, “When does the committee meeting begin?” versus “What is the client’s account number?”

Recognize the appropriate nature of the platform being utilized. Contacting someone’s agent via email to request an interview is common; however, direct messaging (DM’ing) the person in question through Twitter could also grant interview access. Each situation of communication is different and requires an evaluation of the channel selected.

Research the safety of the platform before communicating with another person. Various accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and more experience hacking every day.

Anticipate unintentional misinterpretation. Texting often uses symbols and codes to represent thoughts, ideas, and emotions. Given the complexity of communication, and the useful but limited tool of texting, be aware of its limitations and prevent misinterpretation with brief messages.

Contacting someone too frequently can border on harassment. Texting is a tool. Use it when appropriate, but don’t abuse it.

Ask someone their preferred times for text communication. Some people are not able to use digital devices during work hours; on the other hand, some people prefer not to communicate about business beyond scheduled work hours.

Avoid using unfamiliar text features (creating a group chat, archiving messages, etc.) without prior knowledge. Accidentally erasing communication, blocking a party, or more can create problems such as lost data, confusion, privacy violations, and so forth.

This text was derived from

Gross, Allison, Annemarie Hamlin, Billy Merck, Chris Rubio, Jodi Naas, Megan Savage, and Michele DeSilva. Technical Writing. Open Oregon Educational Materials, n.d. https://openoregon.pressbooks.pub/technicalwriting/. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The above authors derived their text from:

Saylor Academy. “PRDV002: Professional Writing.” April 2016. Online Course. https://learn.saylor.org/course/view.php?id=56. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

McMurrey, David. Online Technical Writing. n.d. https://www.prismnet.com/~hcexres/textbook/. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Howdy or Hello? Technical and Professional Communication by Annemarie Hamlin; Chris Rubio; Michele DeSilva; James Francis, Jr.; and Kimberly Clough is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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